May 20, 2014 9:10 pm

MUHC won’t renew locally owned Café Mauro’s lease

Watch: Mom-and-pop café closed by the MUHC

MONTREAL – A longtime tenant at 5252 de Maisonneuve West in NDG is being kicked out as the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) gears up to move in.

The local business managed to survive during the construction around the MUHC superhospital, but just as the state of the art facility is set to open, the traditional Italian Café is being evicted.

Owner Domenico Covone has spent the last 17 years of his life building Café Mauro, a business he named after his son. Many of his loyal customers over the years have become good friends.

“A lot of friends became like family and now these people will be stranded with no place to go” said Covone, who prides himself on his Italian coffee selection and fresh homemade meals. His customers will tell you the key to the Café’s success is the chef, Covone himself.

“Very nice guy, you can speak with him about anything, he speaks, I don’t know, four or five languages,” said Italo Summer, a regular customer.

The owner of Café Mauro, near Vendome metro station, is being evicted by the MUHC superhospital.

Anne Leclair/Global News

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Café Mauro sits just across the street from the Vendôme metro station. It’s also a stone’s throw from the MUHC superhospital, which is located across the tracks from the Glen Yards site.

Business took a big hit when construction started a few years ago, but Covone was hoping for better days ahead, when the hospital was set to open early next year. But instead, he has just been told that his lease won’t be renewed and he has to move out.

“The better times were supposed to be coming, but I guess I’ll be leaving and now I’m going to miss the best of times,” said Covone.

Customers were also having trouble digesting the news.

“It’s very terrible that he has to go, I don’t know why the hospital make this problem here” said Mohammed Mathlothi, another regular customer.

The MUHC purchased the building two years ago and will now need the space for medical and research offices.

“The lease is up for renewal in July, and we’ve offered him an extra month until August,” said Ian Popple, a spokesperson for the MUHC.

“I understand it’s a difficult situation and some of our team members have been there to talk to him and explain the situation.”

But it’s little consolation to Covone, who wishes the MUHC had told him sooner.

“If they told me five, six months ago I would have had time to turn things around,” said Covone.

Café Mauro owner Domenico Covone with his daughter Elisa Covone on May 20, 2014.

Anne Leclair/Global News

His 19-year daughter has spent most of her life in the café and now works here part-time.

‘It’s hard on the entire family” said Elisa Covone.

“At first, I thought the hospital would give him more business instead of making him leave.”

Covone has no solid plans for the future. He has already turned down the offer to stay an extra month,

“What’s the point? I’ll have to leave anyway!” said the 59-year old.

Despite the inevitable, his customers are convinced he’ll be back on his feet in no time.

“He’s always smiling, it’s so nice here, it’s sad that he’s going but maybe something better will work out,” said longtime customer Gloria Dorrington.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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